Monday, March 31, 2008

How People View The Status Of Religions Other Than Their Own

How People View The Status Of Religions Other Than Their Own Cover According to David Barrett et al, editors of the "World Christian Encyclopedia: A comparative survey of churches and religions - AD 30 to 2200," there are 19 major World Religions which are subdivided into a total of 270 large religious groups, and many smaller ones. 34,000 separate Christian groups have been identified worldwide. 1

These religions and faith groups teach very different belief systems. This naturally raises the question of where religious truth is to be found. To many believers, particularly religious conservatives, religious truth is of paramount importance. They believe that one must be saved by embracing the truth before being eligible to avoid Hell and attain Heaven after death.

Many people regard their own denomination or faith group within their own religion to possess total religious truth; other denominations are seen to exhibit some error; other religions are often considered to be in serious error and are sometimes viewed as in opposition to the truth. Within evangelical Christianity, other religions are sometimes referred to as being led by Satan or some of his demons.

There are four main methods of viewing other denominations and religions:
- Extreme Particularism: This is the belief that one's own faith group possesses all of the truth, as revealed to their religion, alone, by God. Other faith groups and religions worship demons and are led by Satan. Few if any of them will be saved.

- Exclusivism: One's own group possesses the truth as God revealed it to them. Other religious groups are in serious error, and place the latter's members in grave peril regarding salvation.

In recent years, some theologians have objected to the term "exclusivism" because of its negative connotation. They prefer the term "particularism" Within Christianity, this belief system takes two main forms:

- Agnostic Particularism: Salvation is attained through belief in Christ alone as Lord and Savior. However, it may be possible for those who have not heard of Christianity, the Gospel or Jesus Christ to be saved and attain Heaven after death.

- Traditional Particularism: Salvation is attained only through an explicit knowledge and faith in Christ. The vast majority of humans -- even those who have never heard of Jesus -- will spend eternity being tortured in Hell

- Inclusivism: One's own group possesses the truth; other religious groups contain parts of the truth. The latter's believers are less likely to be saved.

- Pluralism: All group's beliefs and practices are equally valid, when interpreted within their own culture. Salvation is for all.

Speaking generally, in most of the world's main religions:
- The liberal/progressive wing accepts pluralism,
- The conservative wing teaches inclusivism, and
- The very conservative wing believes in exclusivism, and
- The fundamentalist wing teaches extreme particularism.

Unfortunately, the term "religious pluralism" has other unrelated meanings.
- One is as a synonym for religious diversity: the fact that there exists a variety of religious beliefs in a given country or other geographic area. Thus, religious pluralism in North America -- in the sense of the U.S. and Canada being religiously diverse -- is a statement of fact.
- The other meaning of "religious diversity:" that all religious are equally valid, when evaluated within their culture of origin.

Of course, if one evaluates a religion in practical areas, like its teachings on the status of women, on the status of sexual and racial minorities, etc., on the death penalty, on corporal punishment of children, promotion of religious freedom, promotion of religious oppression, etc. not all religions are equally "good."

Books in PDF format to read:

James Braid - Observations On Trance Or Human Hybernation
Solomonic Grimoires - Lemegeton Ii The Lesser Key Of Solomon Theurgia Goetia
Anonymous - The Teachings Of The Rosicrucians Of The 16th And 17th Centuries
Chantepie De La Saussaye - The Religion Of The Teutons